Wednesday, 24 February 2010

FCC Rolls Out Loans for On-Farm Renewable Energy

Manitoba Co-Operator - Staff - 2/23/2010

Farmers and agribusinesses eyeing ways to use renewable ...



the Overgaard farm

Monday, 22 February 2010

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Warming Climate May Devastate Major U.S. Crops

Study Suggests Tipping Points for Corn, Soybeans, Cotton

posted: 2009-09-11 Earth Institute - Columbia University

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Covering Climate Change

by Ben Block - This article appears in the March/April 2010 issue of World Watch magazine.

News coverage of global climate change is on the rise worldwide, but more in-depth international reporting is needed...

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Sunday, 14 February 2010

The Day After Tomorrow Might Have Been Yesterday

Matthew Berger - Inter Press Service - Feb. 14 - 2010

WASHINGTON, 12 Feb (IPS) - When the 2004 film "The Day After...

Unravelling the “Miracle” of Malawi’s Green Revolution

GRAIN - Feb 12 - 2010
Malawi farmers - courtesy of BBC News
Malawi’s green revolution success story has been...

Friday, 12 February 2010

Cattle Pastures in Deforested Amazon Now the Size of Iceland

by Brian Merchant, Brooklyn, New York on 01.31.09 - Treehugger

The largest rainforest in the world is being chopped down almost entirely for...

Amazon Will Be Drier Because of Global Warming, But Won’t Turn to Savannah

by Matthew McDermott, New York, NY on 02.11.09 TreeHugger

Under some global warming scenarios….

The Right's Inability to Grasp Climate Change May Be Funny, But It's Also Very Dangerous

AlterNet / By Daniela Perdomo

The so-called Snowpocalypse has brought out the...

More Evidence of Link Between Parkinson's and Pesticides

OnEarth - Feb 4 - 2010

The evidence that environmental factors....

Walmart to Gauge "Sustainability" in Canada

Staff- Manitoba Co-Operator

2/11/2010

Canada's Walmart stores are going to be the chain's first outside the U.S. to adopt the company's "sustainable...

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Global Warming an Olympic Worry, says Rogge

AFP | February 8, 2010

VANCOUVER – Global warming is starting to worry the International Olympic Committee, with concern mounting over how it might affect future Games.

IOC president Jacques Rogge said it was an issue discussed in meetings on Monday ahead of the Winter Olympics here, with the issue of Cypress Mountain , just outside of Vancouver , highlighting the problem.

The mountain is the site for the freestyle and snowboard events but has been plagued by a drastic lack of snow caused by the warm temperatures which have seen Vancouver enjoying unseasonal highs of around 10C (50F).

Lorry loads of snow have been carted in to the venue and media banned from visiting in an effort to get it ready in time.

"Global warming of course is a worry, it is a worry for the entire world," Rogge said.

"It might affect, in the long-term, the staging of Winter Games but I can tell you that today in the evaluation committee meeting we asked for statistics.

"It is very clear that we want to know what the snow conditions are in a particular resort. Of course, this is not a guarantee for the future.

"But we are doing good research on this. There is also the improvement in artifical snow machines and everything that has been put in place in Cypress Mountain , for example, to alleviate changes in meteorology."

Rogge said global warming would be a key issue examined in awarding any future Winter Olympics.

"Global warming is definitely a factor that must be taken into account in Olympic preparations," he said.

"In awarding the event to a host city, we must look at the climate and snow conditions and geography, as well as ways to alleviate any lack of snow."

=======

Editor's note: Perhaps the best way to avoid worries over snow at Olympic venues is to cancel the Olympics! Sending millions jetting to the Olympics half way round the world every two years is, surely, in itself, climate-changing! When are guys like Rogge going to get these cause-and-effect relationships? l.p.

===

"With respect to environmental impact, all Olympic Games leave a very large footprint. Thousands of people flying in from all over the world, along with local transportation and the infrastructure that must be created, mean a lot of carbon emissions get spewed into the atmosphere" David Suzuki

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Have Farm Chemicals Ruined Another Life?

by Larry Powell


Oh look! What the world needs now! Yet another "crop protection" product! l.p.photo

I met him recently at a family event. 



Since he prefers not to be identified, I'll call him "James," which is not his real name.


James moved slowly with the use of a cane; a distinguished looking senior with graying hair.

At dinner, he confided in me with bits and pieces of his personal story. 


It was both amazing and tragic.


He had worked for a number of years in the farm chemical industry in western Canada. 


Industry "experts" convinced him at the time that the chemicals he was working with were so safe, "I would have drunk them if they had asked me to!" 


Turns out, he didn't have to. 


James is convinced that, merely inhaling their fumes over the years was enough to change his life forever. And not for the better.

Later, at my request, James sends me a hand-written letter, going into more detail.


In 1960, in a small southern prairie town, he was training to become a grain elevator manager.

At that time, the chemicals he handled included 2-4-D. That's a weed killer heavily used in farming all over the world for more than half a century. Various studies have linked it to a wide range of adverse human health effects.

It is related chemically to Agent Orange, widely used by the US military against the enemy in Viet Nam.


James says, at the time, there was no storage space for the chemicals so they were kept in his office, where he breathed in their fumes.


Later, at another location and another job in the same province, he went to work spraying roadsides, using products he says "Were hard to get for the average home owner." 


He then moved to another area of the province where many different crops were grown. There, he says, a surprising number of new chemicals, including bug-killers and fungicides, were "big sellers."

He describes fumes from the huge chemical warehouse at that location as "almost putrid."
And there, he says, he actually lost his sense of smell.


In 1991, he was gripped with full-bodied seizures and tremors. 
He was forced to retire and lost his driver's license, which he has never gotten back.


The Medical Establishment Turns its Back

Several visits to a big city hospital turned up nothing.
 Finally, a full medical team of specialists "Grilled me for six hours." 
He gave them a list of every chemical he had ever handled, sold or otherwise come into contact with and the companies which sold them to him.


Then, they dropped a bombshell on him.



He says the team asked "'What would you do if we told you it was definitely the chemicals which caused your medical problems?' I explained it would be very nice to receive workers' compensation for this.

They put their heads together and, after a short conference, they asked if I would go after the chemical company responsible. My answer was 'yes.'

They then informed me that, if litigation ever took place, they would not help me! This was a real slap in the kisser as this was totally unexpected."


James says his motor skills have been damaged and walking is a real effort. He says his memory has also been damaged. He says people who obviously know him say "hello," but he has no idea who they are.


He gets bad tremors daily, although medication keeps them under control.

James has chosen not to let us use his real name, publicly. He says he lives "quite comfortably now," considering all his ailments. So he says he just doesn't want to stir up a public "hornet's nest" this late in life.

Meanwhile, a veteran medical ethicist at the University of Manitoba, Paul Schafer, says he has never heard a story exactly like this one. But he has heard similar ones.
Prof. Schafer, Director
of the U of M's Centre for
Professional and Applied Ethics.


Prof. Schafer concludes, "Doctors (and even public health officials) who blow the whistle on industries or industrial chemicals often find themselves embroiled in controversy, which can be career-damaging. Some are brave and speak out; many are cowardly and shut up."

-30-

Author's note: This tragic tale is not inconsistent with others I have heard. Given the unwillingness of much of the medical establishment and sometimes our larger society to "take on," these giant corporations, the companies basically carry on with business as usual, unchallenged and unchecked. 

One farmer I spoke to a few years ago told me his family had been exposed to a stiff dose of chemicals from a nearby farm where crop spray was being applied from the air. He and his family had all gotten sick and he was convinced the spray was the reason.

A tidbit he did not want me to report on at the time was this.
He believed a medical doctor employed by the corporation which made the spray, had actually 'phoned his own family doctor. Why? To convince him their spray was not really the cause. It seemed to work. His doctor, who initially said he believed the spray was to blame, changed his mind.

Then, there was the time I was kicked out of a veterinary clinic. I wanted to confirm with the vet, anecdotal stories I had heard that several dogs and cats were dying in an area where crops were being heavily sprayed. It was a hostile reception which surprised me a bit and made me feel like asking "Doth thou not protesteth too much?"
 l.p.
====
Read related story here.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Commercial Fishing Endangers Dolphin Populations, New Study Finds

ScienceDaily (Feb. 5, 2010) — Extensive commercial fishing….
Captive dolphins in a "swim with dolphins" fun park in Mexico. l.p. photo

Tritium Hot Zone Expands

By SUSAN SMALLHEER - Rutland Herald - Vermont

VERNON — The Department of Health said late Monday there appears to be "a very large...

Monday, 8 February 2010

A Green Budget for Canada?

thegreenpages - Canada

Link to thegreenpages

Posted: 07 Feb 2010 07:01 AM PST

Ottawa - In light of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's invitation for input on the upcoming federal budget, the Green Budget Coalition (GBC) is today highlighting its three priority budget recommendations, whose adoption could stimulate over 8,000 new jobs in renewable energy, ensure clean sources of drinking water for millions of Canadians, and help Canada meet its commitment under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity to establish national and regional systems of protected areas.

"These are prime opportunities for Canada to shine on the world stage during the International Year of Biodiversity and in the lead-up to the G8 and G20 Summits," said Barry Turner, Chair of the Green Budget Coalition and Director of Government Relations, Ducks Unlimited Canada.

The Green Budget Coalition comprises 21 of Canada's leading environmental and conservation organizations and has been active since 1999. Its detailed budget recommendations are contained in Recommendations for Budget 2010: Investing in a Prosperous Green Future.

Members of the coalition met with MPs from all political parties and with senior government officials to discuss these recommendations. "We received a positive reception from all of the MPs and officials with whom we met and are optimistic that our recommendations will receive serious consideration as the final budget deliberations take place," said Mr. Turner.

The Green Budget Coalition's 3 priority recommendations for the 2010 federal budget are:

  1. Protecting Ecosystems and Biodiversity: In the face of dangerous climate change, and with Canada due to report this year on its progress under the UN Convention on Biodiversity, fund a national ecosystem based adaptation strategy to improve Canada's biodiversity protection on lands and oceans.
  2. Investing in Canada's Freshwater Future: Deliver Canada's promised federal water strategy, building upon recent federal actions, by investing in water and wastewater infrastructure, the cleanup of contaminated sediment, and protecting freshwater ecosystems in the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence Basin.
  3. Re-investing in Renewable Energy: Create at least 8,000 jobs by renewing Canada's incentives for renewable power, establishing green energy bonds and mapping Canada's geothermal potential.

Climate change is a threat to the future of humanity, as Prime Minister Harper has acknowledged. The GBC's recommendations on biodiversity and water highlight some of the key measures required for Canada to prepare for, and adapt to, the impacts of climate change. Strong actions are also required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including investing in clean energy sources, in order to protect future generations and avoid the much greater costs of inaction.

In light of the Copenhagen meetings in December, the GBC is now recommending that the budget allocate new funding, additional to current Overseas Development Assistance commitments, to cover Canada's fair share of the US$30 billion committed in Copenhagen, from 2010 to 2012, in "new and additional resources" to assist developing countries in mitigating and adapting to climate change.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Stress, Depression Take Toll on Farmers

Winnipeg Free Press - By: Laura Rance - Manitoba Co-Operator 6/02/2010


Workshops to focus on growing problem...





Canola swaths in October
.
l.p. photo

Los Angeles May Get Mandatory Rainwater Harvesting Law

Does this mean LA is becoming water wise?
feb 5 2010 - treehugger

Friday, 5 February 2010

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Ottawa Squanders Energy Economy

Winnipeg Free Press - By: Frances Russell - 3/02/2010
Courtesy of Beautiful Destruction.
More and better carbon capture...

Manitoba's Conservation Minister Responds to my Story on Swan Valley Air Emissions

I invited three Manitoba cabinet ministers to give their input.

Just over a month later, I got a response from one of them, Bill Blaikie.
Please read my email and his, below.
Larry

==========
From: Larry Powell [mailto:earthkeeperfarm@yahoo.ca]
Sent: Thursday, December 31, 2009 12:22 PM
To: Conservation, Minister; Agriculture, Minister; Finance, Minister

Subject: News Story On LP's Pollution Controls

Dear Honourable Ministers,


I'd like to congratulate you all on your recent appointments to new portfolios!

I am a journalist based near Roblin who writes regularly on issues touching on your areas of ministerial responsibility. (I write for my blog - see link below - occasionally for weekly newspapers in my region and magazines such as Briarpatch and Sasquatch.)

As you may know, I've written extensively in past about Louisiana Pacific's logging operations in my general part of the province (and, of course yours, Stan and Rosanne).

This time, I'm compiling another article about LP's closure of its pollution control devices at Minitonas.

If I may, I'd like to direct a couple of questions to each, or all of you, the answers to which I'd like to incorporate into the story.
• Given the protracted time it is taking for the CEC to make its recommendations, are you still comfortable that, rather than requiring the RTOs to remain in service in the interim, you have allowed them to stay offline? This is obviously permitting more industrial pollutants to escape into the air of the Swan Valley than would otherwise have been the case, is it not? (After all, it will soon be one full year that you will have allowed this to happen.)
• Regardless of what the CEC's recommendations will be, or when it makes them, are you prepared to seriously consider placing the RTOs back in service immediately?
• Would you consider looking into the option of LP using a bioreactor as a future means of controlling emissions, as has been suggested by one of the independent experts hired by Concerned Citizens of the Valley?
If you have any questions about me, please feel free to ask!

I hope to hear back from you at your earliest opportunity.

Best regards and complements of the season!
Larry Powell
See our planet through a fresh lens,
Visit: "Paths Less Travelled. Stories rarely told by mainstream media."
========

February 3, 2010

Larry Powell
earthkeeperfarm@yahoo.ca

Dear Mr. Powell:

Thank you for your email of December 31, 2009 in which you sought information related to the review of Louisiana-Pacific’s proposal to alter air emissions control equipment for the Swan Valley Oriented Strand Board plant.

As you are aware, the Clean Environment Commission (CEC) is currently reviewing this matter. My Department will await the recommendations of the CEC before making any permanent decisions regarding air emissions control equipment.

Again, thank you for providing your comments on this matter.

Yours sincerely,

“signed by”

Bill Blaikie
Minister

cc: Honourable Rosann Wowchuk
Honourable Stan Struthers
=====
Editor's note: Normally, I wouldn't consider such a "non-response" response from an elected official even worthy of mention. But I thought it important to place this government on record that it is aware of the action it has taken and is consciously sticking to it, regardless of the consequences down the road.
Will there be consequences in terms of health outcomes later on? Time will tell.
Mr. Balikie's response is not unlike one you might expect from any other government of any other political stripe. His inference clearly is; it would somehow be impossible, illegal or unethical for him to do anything pending the CEC's recommendations. Given that the CEC is strictly an advisory body, that inference is clearly just an excuse for sticking to what many people still believe to be a wrong-headed decision. l.p.

Biotech Wheat Could Slam U.S. Wheat Prices -Report

Wed Jan 27, 2010 - By Carey Gillam

CHICAGO, Jan 27 (Reuters) U.S. wheat prices could fall by 40 percent...

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

With Climate Change, Some Birds Are Taking Off for Migration Sooner; Not Reaching Destinations Earlier

ScienceDaily (Jan. 29, 2010)

Migrating birds can and do keep...
(R.) Cape May Warbler












Three American goldfiches (l.) migrated north to Manitoba,
as they usually do in mid-spring of 2009. They were caught by a
highly unusual major snowstorm in May! Photos by l.p.

Pro-Canadian Wheat Board Farmers Consider Appeal Over Voters' List

Staff - MB CoOperator - 2/1/2010
l.p. photo
The Prairie farmers' group that….

Tell Chevron to Clean up its Toxic Legacy

Care2 subscriber since Jan 1, 2010 Unsubscribe | Forward to a Friend | Take Action
care2 petitionsite actionAlert

Hi Larry,

Chevron is responsible for one of the largest environmental disasters on the planet.

For 26 years, the U.S. oil giant has deliberately dumped more than 18 billion gallons of toxic wastewater into Ecuador's Amazon rainforest.

Tell Chevron to clean up its mess! »

As a result of all the toxic dumping, local people suffer from cancers, miscarriages and birth defects. And still Chevron refuses to clean up the catastrophe!

Chevron even stated that if it is found guilty in court the company simply won't pay to clean up the site or provide health care, potable water and compensation to affected communities.

Chevron needs to take responsibility. But the company won't unless it feels pressure from its American customers and the general public. Send a letter to CEO John Watson and tell him he needs to clean up Chevron's toxic legacy in Ecuador. »

Thanks for taking action!

Samer
ThePetitionSite


Tell Chevron to Clean Up
its Toxic Legacy in Ecuador
Your voice will make an important difference for the people of  Ecuador.
Take  Action!

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Monday, 1 February 2010

GM Crops Facing Meltdown in the USA

ISIS Press Release 01/02/10

Major crops genetically modified for just two traits - herbicide tolerance and insect resistance – are ravaged by super weeds and secondary pests in the heartland of GMOs as farmers fight a losing battle with more of the same; a fundamental shift to organic farming practices may be the
only salvation Dr. Mae-Wan Ho

Please circulate widely, keeping all links unchanged, and submit to your government representatives demanding an end to GM crops and support for non-GM organic agriculture

Artist Paul Hoppe
















Two traits account for practically all the genetically-modified (GM) crops grown in the world today: herbicide-tolerance (HT) due to glyphosate-insensitive form of the gene coding for the enzyme targeted by the herbicide, 5-enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate synthase (EPSPS), derived from soil bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens, and insect-resistance due to one or more toxin genes derived from the soil bacterium Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis).
Commercial planting began around 1997 in the United States, the heartland of GM crops, and increased rapidly over the years.
By now, GM crops have taken over 85-91 percent of the area planted with the three major crops, soybean, corn and cotton in the US [1]] (see Table 1), which occupy nearly 171 million acres.


Table 1. GM crops grown in 2009 in the USA

The ecological time-bomb that came with the GM crops has been ticking away, and is about to explode.

HT crops encouraged the use of herbicides, resulting in herbicide-resistant weeds that demand yet more herbicides.
But the increasing use of deadly herbicide and herbicide mixtures has failed to stall the advance of the palmer superweed in HT crops. At the same time, secondary pests such as the tarnished plant bug, against which Bt toxin is powerless, became the single most damaging insect for US
cotton.

Monster plants that can’t be killed

It is the Day of the Triffids - not the genetically modified plants themselves as alluded to in John Wyndham’s novel - but “super weeds that can’t be killed” [2], created by the planting of genetically modified HT crops, as seen on ABC TV news.

The scene is set at harvest time in Arkansas October 2009.
Grim-faced farmers and scientists speak from fields infested with giant pigweed plants that can withstand as much glyphosate herbicide as you can afford to douse on them. One farmer spent US$0.5 million in three months trying to clear the monster weeds in vain; they stop combine harvesters and break hand tools. Already, an estimated one million acres of soybean and cotton crops in Arkansas have become infested.

The palmer amaranth or palmer pigweed is the most dreaded weed. It can grow 7-8 feet tall, withstand withering heat and prolonged droughts, produce thousands of seeds and has a root system that drains nutrients away from crops. If left unchecked, it would take over a field in a year.

Meanwhile in North Carolina Perquimans County, farmer and extension worker Paul Smith has just found the offending weed in his field [3], and he too, will have to hire a
migrant crew to remove the weed by hand.

The resistant weed is expected to move into neighbouring counties. It has already developed resistance to at least three other types of herbicides.

Herbicide-resistance in weeds is nothing new. Ten weed species in North Carolina and 189 weed species nationally have developed resistance to some herbicide.

A new herbicide is unlikely to come out, said Alan York,retired professor of agriculture from North Carolina State University and national weed expert

Read the rest of this article here:

http://www.i-sis.org.uk/GMCropsFacingMeltdown.php


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Biotech Crops Cause Big Jump in Pesticide Use: Report

Carey Gillam - Reuters - KANSAS CITY - Tue Nov 17, 2009


KANSAS CITY (Reuters) - The rapid adoption by U.S. farmers of...

Boreal Forests Store More Carbon than Tropical Forests

Posted: 15 Nov 2009 09:58 PM PST

Report Calls for Global Climate Talks to Consider Boreal’s Impact

cbi-bsi-logo OTTAWA, Ontario—When the world thinks of forests and their value to offset global warming, tropical forests come to mind. A report released today shows that the global impact of Canada’s boreal forest, which stores nearly twice as much carbon per hectare as tropical forests, has been vastly underestimated.

“The Carbon the World Forgot” identifies the boreal forests of North America as not only the cornerstone habitat for key mammal species, but one of the most significant carbon stores in the world, the equivalent of 26 years of global emissions from burning fossil fuels, based on 2006 emissions levels. Globally, these forests store 22 percent of all carbon on the earth’s land surface.

“Past accounting greatly underestimated the amount and depth of carbon stored in and under the boreal forest,” said Jeff Wells, an author of the report. In addition to carbon storage in trees, organic matter accumulated over millennia is stored in boreal peatlands and areas of permafrost. Some of this boreal carbon has been in place for up to 8,000 years.

The boreal forest’s status as the most intact forest left on earth also offers a unique opportunity for plants and animals forced to adapt to shifting habitats. Most other habitats today are highly fragmented by human activity, creating a variety of additional obstacles for species survival.

In light of these findings, today’s report urges that international negotiations on carbon and forest protection consider ways to account for and protect the boreal.

“Any effective and affordable response to climate change should include preserving the world’s remaining, carbon-rich old-growth forests,” said Steve Kallick, director of the Pew Environment Group’s International Boreal Conservation Campaign. “This report makes clear that nations must look not just at the tropics but at all the world’s old-growth forests for climate change solutions.”

“Keeping that carbon in place by protecting boreal forests is an important part of the climate equation,” said Dr. Andrew Weaver, “If you cut down the boreal forest and disturb its peatlands, you release more carbon, accelerating climate change.” Dr. Weaver of the University of Victoria is a lead author for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which was awarded the Nobel Prize.

“The collision of climate disruption and massive human degradation of ecosystems is seriously worrying globally,” said leading conservation biologist Dr. Stuart Pimm of Duke University. “These changes are surely novel in earth’s history.” Maintaining the boreal forest’s intactness will be critical to slowing ecosystem shifts and to providing migratory corridors for displaced wildlife.

“Conservation can be an important tool in the fight to mitigate climate change” said Larry Innes, Director of the Canadian Boreal Initiative. “International protocols and legislation need to create opportunities to maintain the carbon stored in intact boreal forest soils, peatlands, and wetlands while enabling indigenous and local communities to take a leadership role in determining how to best conserve not only carbon, but the full suite of ecological, cultural and economic values that the boreal forest represents.”

More than 1,500 international scientists led by authors for the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recommended in 2007 that at least half of Canada's boreal forest be protected from further disturbance - in large part to keep both the boreal forest carbon bank and internationally significant wildlife habitats intact. Despite the current lack of international protocol, several Canadian First Nation, provincial, and federal governments have taken important steps to protect hundreds of millions of acres of Canada’s carbon rich boreal forest. In all, scientists are recommending that at least 300 million hectares be protected.

###

For further information, contact:

  • Larry Innes, Executive Director, Canadian Boreal Initiative, linnes@borealcanada.ca ; 416-575-6776, 613-230-4739 ext 226.
  • Steve Kallick, Director, International Boreal Conservation Campaign, Pew Environment Group 206-327-1184; skallick@pewtrusts.org
  • Dr. Jeff Wells, science advisor to the International Boreal Conservation Campaign, 207-458-8492; jeff@interboreal.org
  • Dr. Stuart Pimm, Duke University, contact Sue Libenson, 907-766-2841; sue@interboreal.org
  • Dr. Andrew Weaver, University of Victoria, contact Sue Libenson, 907-766-2841; sue@interboreal.org

To view the full report and associated materials: http://borealbirds.org/carbonreport.shtml

-

Thanks to David Childs for sharing.